Hawaii’s Democratic Governor, Josh Green, has declared his administration’s intention to “obtain” the land affected by the recent wildfires.
Governor Green has expressed that he is already exploring ways for the state to purchase properties in Lahaina that have been devastated by the fires.
Many of the areas destroyed by the wildfires were occupied by beachfront properties that were constructed on culturally significant land.
As of Thursday morning, the wildfires on Maui have resulted in a total of 111 deaths.
Officials have voiced concerns about the potential for the death toll to rise further.
Currently, only 25 percent of the burned area has been searched.
However, amidst the loss of homes and loved ones, local residents are now grappling with the unwelcome attention of developers seeking to exploit their tragedy.
A particularly troubling account involving Tammy Kaililaau has been reported by USA Today.
Kaililaau, whose home of two decades was reduced to ashes in the fires, received a Facebook message from a real estate individual less than a week after the catastrophic event.
Real estate developers are scrambling to acquire the land, which they would typically be prohibited from purchasing, with the intention of constructing upscale new beachfront properties.
Kaililaau and other residents were warned via social media about the potential intentions of developers to purchase their land.
John Dimuro, a resident of the island for over 40 years and a Marriott employee in West Maui, criticized local authorities for not standing up against developers.
Dimuro echoed the local sentiment against large corporations or wealthy individuals purchasing the land, asserting:
“The government should simply say ‘no, you’re not allowed to develop.’
“Just say no, outright.”
According to The Post Millennial, Governor Green vowed to “safeguard” the land from foreign buyers seeking to exploit the situation.
Green disclosed that his strategy for “safeguarding” the land entails its purchase from the landowners.
He is determined to prevent this tragedy from being forgotten or exploited by foreign investors taking advantage of others’ misfortune.
“I’m already brainstorming ways for the state to procure that land so that we can allocate it for workforce housing, return it to families, or preserve it as open spaces in perpetuity as a tribute to the lives lost,” Green affirmed.
“We want this to be a place that remains in our memory, even after the pain subsides, as a special place. Lahaina will rebuild.
“The current tragedy is the loss of human lives.
“Buildings can be reconstructed with time, and even the banyan tree might survive, but we don’t want this to become an empty space where outsiders come and decide to claim it.
“The state will take possession and safeguard it first.”
During another press conference, Green expounded on potential legal actions under consideration.
“I have personally contacted our attorney general to explore avenues for placing a moratorium on property sales that involve damaged or destroyed properties,” he remarked.
“Furthermore, I would caution individuals that it will be quite a while before any development or housing can occur.
“Attempting to seize land from our people and build here would be a very ill-informed move.”
“In conversations last night with trusted colleagues, we are aiming to create a memorial for the people of Hawaii at this site,” he added.
Trying to take land away from our people before we’ve had a chance to grieve and rebuilt is not pono, and we will not stand for it. pic.twitter.com/gZczd1oLTo
— Governor Josh Green (@GovJoshGreenMD) August 15, 2023